The Problem

The 2002 Arab Peace Initiative endorsed by the Arab League was never officially responded to by the Israeli government.

The Solution

Answer - and revive - the Arab Peace Initiative to further support future peace negotiations and capitalize on the unique opportunity posed by shared Israel-Arab geopolitical interests.


The Arab Peace Initiative (API), first introduced in 2002, and reendorsed by the Arab League subsequently, offers Israel normal relations with the Arab world following a comprehensive peace agreement on the Palestinian issue. The API calls on Israel to withdraw “from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights to the lines of June 4, 1967 as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.”

Since the first introduction of the API, much has changed in the region. In addition to the conclusion of the Second Lebanon War and withdrawal of Israeli troops from Southern Lebanon in 2006, civil war has struck and destroyed much of Syria, the Islamic State's rise to influence threatens transnational borders, and Iranian hegemony continues to destabilize regimes from Beirut to Sana'a.

Despite these adverse developments, the shared interests of stability and security between Israel and the Sunni Gulf states have grown tremendously. On the Israeli-Palestinian issue, an agreement based on a land for peace formula alone will not provide Israel with the security guarantees or regional integration that are necessary to forge a lasting, sustainable peace. Against this backdrop of regional unrest, and a weakened Palestinian leadership with an uncertain future, an effort to regionalize the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be especially opportune.

Key Modifications

Israel - with the encouragement and support of the United States - should welcome the API as a basis for discussion, with the aim of transforming it from a trophy to be received after an Israeli-Palestinian agreement into an action plan that advances two parallel tracks: Israeli-Arab relations alongside advancements toward Israeli-Palestinian peace.

The following modifications to the 2002's API are recommended:


In the Spring of 2013, the Arab League accepted “comparable and mutually agreed minor swaps of the land,” as part of the API. This removes the previously unacceptable demand that Israel return to the 1967 Green Line and signals that the API should not be considered a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.


Some Israelis have criticized the API’s insistence on “a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194,” interpreting this reference as a call for the full return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. In recent years, representatives of the Saudi royal family and other Arab actors have underscored that the phrase “agreed upon” signals a recognition that any resolution to the issue of refugees requires both Israeli and Palestinian consent, acknowledging that a full-scale return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants is not in the cards.


The API's original inclusion of the areas “including the Syrian Golan Heights to the lines of June 4, 1967” is no longer politically feasible due to the Syrian civil war. The conflict in Syria has created a mutual interest in Israel’s maintaining its long-term presence on the Golan Heights. By responding to the API in this current environment, Israel will find an Arab League that is not encumbered by the views of Syria or its Hezbollah partners and potentially prepared to further amend the API accordingly.

Broad support from Arab Leaders

Vocal support for a coordinated regional framework alongside bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations has gained strong momentum in recent years by heads of state and foreign leaders across the Middle East:

There is no peace or stability in the region without a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause through a two-state solution.

King Abdullah, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (March 2017)

We should turn this moment into a real starting point to achieve a peace that secures stability and flourishing, and renders the dream of coexistence a reality.

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Egypt (October 2014)

We believe that finding a solution will contribute to strengthening the security and stability of the region and will pull the rug from under the feet of extremism and terrorism in the region.

Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (June 2016)

Answering the Arab Peace Initiative Would:


A formal response to the API would be a positive signal to the Palestinians and Arab world that Israel is still in favor of a two-state arrangement.


Signaling support for the two-state solution would help halt international efforts against Israel that are based on the notion that it is not interested in a future Palestinian state.


The less committed Israel seems to a future two-state solution, the less incentive exists for close security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and with the large Sunni actors.